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Forums Adobe Illustrator Can you save an AI file as a single color PMS file?

  • Can you save an AI file as a single color PMS file?

  • Bobbie Wheeler

    July 7, 2010 at 12:03 am

    One of my clients is requesting that I save an Illustrator file as a single color PMS file rather than a CMYK or RGB file. This file will be printed overseas. I don’t see that as an option under preferences or in the ‘save as’ menu or in the file setup options. I read the thread about doing this in PS as a grayscale, but I’m not sure how that translates into AI. I don’t see grayscale as an option in Illustrator…

    I have CS4 and a Mac. This is for a product that will be printed in one color with screens of that color for the logo and copyright.

    I had a friend who is more proficient in AI help me. He claims he saved it this way, but when I opened it up, it had (CMYK/Preview) at the end of the file name.

    Thanks for your help!

  • Vincent Rosati

    July 7, 2010 at 12:36 am

    Do you know the root PMS swatch that you are supposed to use?
    Either way you would just save a CMYK file as your friend has done, with the used pantone in the swatch palette, and only use that pantone and it’s percentage variants/screens in the actual artwork.

    You could also save swatches for all of the used screens/percentages of the pantone, which would be more for your sake that the printer’s.
    It seems that they want spot colors in the file as opposed to a process colors.

    View your swatches in list mode. You want the ‘Spot Color’ icon for all colors used in the file – a square with a circle in it.
    If it’s CMYK the swatch will only show the 4-color ‘Process Color’ icon.

    Hope this helps.


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  • Bobbie Wheeler

    July 7, 2010 at 1:12 am

    Hi! Vincent,

    Thanks for your quick response.

    According to my client, and my friend who also free-lances for this company, there is a way to save these without them being named as a CMYK file and instead as a “Single Color PMS file”. We had already done what you suggested, and they aren’t accepting that. They want the CMYK completely eliminated. Both parties sent me a sample of what I need to do, but when I open those files in AI, they show in my software as CMYK files. They are also using CS4 on a Mac.

    Is there a preset under preferences or somewhere else in CS4 that would allow me to save them in this ‘1 Color PMS’ format?

    Here are some of the messages the client has sent in order from oldest to most recent:

    “All final files need to be 1C.”

    “I have uploaded a reference file to show the (company) logo on a different style cup as a single color PMS.”

    “I don’t understand why you can’t correct the files from CMYK to single PMS. Like items have always been done as single PMS; there should be no reason why this can’t be accomplished.”

    You can see that she’s losing patience… I don’t want to tell her that we can’t do this.

    Thanks for your help!


  • Vincent Rosati

    July 7, 2010 at 5:00 am

    Are you sure that there are no CKYK objects in your artboard?
    Are you sure that there is only 1 PMS (with screens for different values) used in your artboard?

    I’m just not sure what else might they want. To my knowledge there are only RGB and CMYK color spaces.

    I’ve forwarded this question to another forum leader.
    In the meantime, let us know that you have verified the above questions.
    Perhaps consider uploading or linking the file.


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  • Bobbie Wheeler

    July 7, 2010 at 5:37 pm

    Hi! Vince,

    The actual product is only one PMS color, with screens for different values. As with the file they sent me as an example, there is another color for the die lines. It’s my belief that this would have to be a CMYK file because of this, but they are claiming that there is a way to save this as that “1C PMS” file type, which I’ve never heard of.

    I don’t think I should upload the file to a public forum since this is for a client. But if your forum leader could shed more light on this, I would appreciate it. They said it had to do with how it’s printed overseas and the differences in inks, etc.

    Thank you for your help.


  • Mike Gondek

    July 8, 2010 at 3:28 am

    In document setup make your file CMYK. Choose what spot color you need and add it to the swatches palette. (Swatches flyout menu >> open swatch library >> color books >> Pantone solid coated. Every element (fills, strokes, bitmapped effect eg: drop shadow)on your page will need to be colored with this 1 spot color.

    You can confirm that everything is in the 1 spot color by using windows >> separations preview >> click overprint preview >> uncheck the spot color and the page show be blank, check only the spot color and your document should look the same.

    You can also look in your swatches palette, if the swatch has a dot in the bottom right corner, it is a spot color. It is professional standard practice in the printing trade to remove all colors from the swatch palette that are not being used, so the separator can look at your swatches palette and confirm that you built the file properly.

    If you still need help, you can email me the file. Just do a save as to .ai prior and uncheck pdf compatible to make the file smaller.

  • Bobbie Wheeler

    July 8, 2010 at 2:19 pm

    Thanks for the help, Mike!

    We had already just done the spot color using the PMS swatches palette. I think there was a misunderstanding on the clients part that the file itself could be named as a PMS file. I just sent it to them in CMYK format, they accepted it, so I gave up trying to explain to them that it either had to be CMYK or RGB. Ugh!

    Great site… I will be back!


  • Mike Gondek

    July 8, 2010 at 3:19 pm

    Glad to hear things worked out. We often deal with preparing files for outside the US & UK, which usually means compensating for a poor mindot/shadow range and large traps.

  • adolf witzeling

    July 11, 2010 at 3:06 pm

    by the way,
    even if you set up the document in one spot color, when saving it still stays in “cmyk” mode (or “rgb”)-BUT that doesn’t mean it’s an cmyk file when being separated by a RIP. CMYK or RGB are just viewing modes that the monitor uses to DISPLAY your spot color correctly. It has nothing to do how it will separate (assuming all elements in the document are colored in the same spot color. You CAN NOT save a file without a valid color space. Every spot color has cmyk values embedded, so when you decide to print it in cmyk it’s just a numeric conversion on the RIP based on the colors embedded cmyk values.
    Bottom line is no matter if it’s one or more spot colors you always have to choose a color mode (cmyk or rgb; stay away from rgb, some RIPs will not separate RGB based spot colors) when setting up the documnt which is only your preview mode.
    There was nothing wrong with your file.

  • Sacha Thomas

    July 12, 2010 at 1:34 pm

    Thank you for making the difference between display and print. Good reminder.
    RGB for images for screen display and CMYK for print-that’s always been the rule of thumb I have operated under. The printer is the person who has to correlate the PMS info to his/her printing technology by selecting the correct PMS ink based on the info in CMYK file.
    Since the designer, views the design on a monitor, the CMYK colorspace is a way of translating the the printing colorspace into the display colorspace as well as communicating the correct print values chosen while viewing the display colorspace.
    This thread had me scratchin the old noggin for a couple of minutes wondering if I misunderstood the issue. :0
    Thanks for the post.

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